Robot Talk: What Talent Acquisition Experts Have to Say About AI

A hot topic in Talent Acquisition technology is artificial intelligence (AI). Brian recently discussed it on our blog, where we called out some of the key differences between AI and Automation. 

It’s worth noting that many recruitment bloggers, pundits and analysts don’t truly understand the difference between automation and AI (which is why here, even we are blurring the lines a little bit). At Talent Tech Labs, the community is working hard to figure out how discerning we should be in calling out these differences.

At a basic level: automating process through computerization, for example creating automation that fires off different work flows are labor saving and even intelligent. Taking it one step further, using algorithms to find correlations and other relationships like making matches or triggering a response is also intelligent.

However, in these examples of using technology to mimic intelligence we are not using Artificial Intelligence, but instead, building intelligence around what are already known systems, known behaviors and generally known outcomes. Not bad stuff, yes automation, yes delivering intelligence, but not Artificial Intelligence. Brian Delle Donne

Pres. of @TalentTechLabs says many #recruitment blogs, pundits & analysts don’t truly understand automation vs #AI Click To Tweet

As Brian goes on to point out, some are saying the job title of recruiter will be gone before we know it; others are less optimistic. But despite the differences between AI and Automation, robotics and repeated tasks, AI is here in the recruiting and Talent Acquisition space and the experts in the space have a lot to say about it.

Want to get more insight from Talent Acquisition experts? Download our latest trends report: Trends Report Mockup

Humans Will Always be Necessary

“A lot of what AI does is about providing a mechanism to augment decision-making, rather than threaten and replace what humans do,” MacIntyre explains. “It’ll take a lot of the grunt work out of anything where there are repeating patterns, but the work that humans do will always be necessary – although it’s likely to change over time.” Dr. John MacIntyre, Professor of Adaptive Technology and Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the University of Sunderland

Some Talent Acquisition experts agree with MacIntyre that machines are to augment human tasks, not replace them. From the Industrial Age when the cotton gin helped speed up the production process or in this day and age where automation helps recruiters make the most of their time rather than spending it doing the grunt work and AI can learn patterns and trends to assist recruitment tasks like matching and screening. Recruiters may have to cope with a different definition of what it means to be in that job, but they will certainly not be out of it because of the robots.

Thought leader Dr. John MacIntyre says #AI doesn’t replace humans, but augments decision-making:  Click To Tweet

Leave the Unpredictability to the Humans

“So as it stands, humans will not fully be replaced, but they will be able to handle more and more complex tasks. My guess is that we will work together with AI systems. AI will handle past behavior and leave the unpredictable to the humans.” Jackye Clayton (@jackyeclayton), Editor at RecruitingDaily


Jackye makes a great point about handling past behavior. These AI systems coming to recruiting will be there to help recruiters better handle past information which can be easily inputted and sorted by a machine, rather than spending precious human hours doing so. These precious hours will then be freed up to spend time on the unpredictable that arises which machine simply cannot handle.

.@jackyeclayton says let #AI handle past behavior and leave the unpredictable to humans: Click To Tweet

90/10 Rule

“Ninety percent of the people responsible for recruiting will disappear. Ten percent will remain to design, manage, and build strategies around the AI … because they understand the pieces of the puzzle and that what is under the hood is still an ever-changing set of ideas to improve, compete and innovate — then execute at a world-class level to acquire talent.” -Gerry Crispin (@GerryCrispin), Principal & Co-Founder, CareerXroads
.@GerryCrispin says, “Ninety percent of the people responsible for recruiting will disappear.” #AI Click To Tweet

While this 90/10 rule may not describe the industry’s immediate future, we agree with what Crispin is saying. Recruiters who are not ready to show off their knowledge and expertise behind the job may be on their way out. Much less of the time they’ll be spending will be on tactical work, and more time will be spent on higher-level thinking and strategy. Creating these strategies and using the AI to make them happen will likely be a large part of Talent Acquisition in the near future.

Process Over People

“The most obvious, of course, is that any area of our business where distinct inputs and outputs occur – stuff like screening, sourcing and assessments – will largely become automated, with the intermediary role the recruiter plays rendered unnecessary by the ease of candidate and hiring manager self-service. This is just how machines work – put something in, get something out – that is, if we’re not talking about legacy HCM or ATS systems or InMail, of course.” Katrina Kibben (@KatrinaKibben), Managing Editor at

Katrina Kibben explains some of the most impactful ways AI will be influencing recruitment in the years to come. Her opinion that the process is more valued than the people in it seems to be a large part of the general consensus, tech is needed to improve processes and free up human time. But the more pressing question seems to be, where is that human time going to be allocated?

.@KatrinaKibben agrees #AI will alleviate time for #HR but where will this time be allocated? Click To Tweet

Recruiters and Travel Agents

“The questions that remain is whether or not there will be a need for recruiters. And I think the answer is yes. The world tried to remove the travel agent through automation and did, indeed, reduce the number. On the other hand, it gave new life to the agents capable of putting together complex trips and those who could maintain a relationship with corporate clients. Today these agents are thriving and use the automated software to augment their skills.” Kevin Wheeler (@kwheeler), President of Future of Talent Institute

Wheeler’s comparison of recruiters to travel agents is a fair point—and one that might scare many recruiters. However, despite what many may believe, travel agents are still around. They’re just not booking travel for the general public. Rather, they’ve now devoted their skills to sustaining higher-level relationships and using AI to help them do it.

.@kwheeler said many travel agents lost the battle to automation in large amounts. Rest assured: Click To Tweet

While there’s a lot of skepticism about the functional capacity of a computer’s ability to truly “learn”, there’s a lot of tied to advanced algorithmic components involved in scaling an artificial neural network for practical use.

Share with us in the comments your thoughts on building a neural net vs. machine learning.

Trends Report: Mastering Remote Work Management